Healing Ramble: Peacock Ayurveda Garden ~ Dikwella, Sri Lanka, 2018

welcome to Peacock Ayurveda Garden

Memo: What follows comes from my erstwhile “Healing Journal” – written/compiled on a foggy meandering journey to various countries (Pacifica, Phitsanulok, Cochin, Pokhara, Dikwella/Galle…) visiting all manner of hospitals, clinics and exploring various healing modalities and techniques.

Shared here more-or-less unedited for posterity (whatever that is) and to shed light to those struggling who might come across this riff. Please watch the “Healing Ramble Introduction” video for context on this series.

With respect and understanding that not everyone can do *this* – i have another riff about “why” to seek medical care or healing treatment elsewhere (not in US/Canada in this case). For now, use it if you need it, if not just pass along.

Gist: Along my healing journey, I sought treatment at Peacock Ayurveda Clinic in Dikwella (map to Peacock), close to noteworthy Galle, in southern Sri Lanka. I stayed in-patient for three weeks for a complete “panchakarma“ program.

Background: Certainly, Ayurveda has a number of different flavours in terms of quality and type of the facilities… Ranging from “spa-like“ facilities catering primarily to relatively wealthy or western clientele, to very spartan and rustic, often government-run, facilities treating local people (see Dissanayake diary).

Can be difficult to find the exact right fit mixing with medical needs but with comfort and safety enough to have a relatively enjoyable and stress-free period of time.

This is especially important because doing an extended panchakarma (five medicines) program as it can be rather intense. You are quite literally cleaned out inside and out, and your days are quite packed from early morning onwards with yoga, meditation, meals, doctor consultations, various massages, eye, ears, and nose cleaning, and some of the treatments, let’s just say can be rather “delicate“ or even rather embarrassing. Further, the effects of the treatment can be very intense and lay one out for a couple of days.

I researched a lot of different facilities around Sri Lanka and ended up on this one which seemed, from the outside, to be a good fit for me. While overall it was not near as fulfilling of an experience at my time in Ayurveda Health Home in Nepal or Dr Veena’s Ayurmantra in India, it was a learning experience.

“darling, i’am off to a rejuvenating Pachakarma treatment, see you in a two weeks”

Grounds / Facilities: Of the four different (at the time) Ayurveda facilities at which I received treatment, this one was definitely the most fancy and spa-like.

oh hi buddha

There was a pool (which frankly I was really never able to use but that’s cool), lounge chairs, beautifully manicured gardens with flowers in abundance, and overall the facility was very splendid, filled with interesting antiques, and the patient rooms were like a very nice hotel rooms, even with a private patio area for sitting and resting.

the grounds were immaculate and yes sometimes peacocks

Treatments / Schedule: The treatments were performed in a variety of traditional style huts, which were quite functional as well as charming. Each day, I was issued a fresh sarong and shirt and hat as the treatments are very oily. Additionally, I was given a basket of tiny disposable underwear to wear during the treatments.

Most days, I would have a short consultation with either the senior doctor (a gentleman who was very busy and often/mostly offsite) or a junior doctor (a young lady who was clearly still learning and mostly observing but very kindly).

Dave working on healing at Peacock Ayurveda near Galle, Sri Lanka (with Dr.)
Dave working on healing at Peacock Ayurveda near Galle, Sri Lanka (with Dr.)

Each visit with the Drs, they would check my pulse, blood pressure and other pressure points. At the core of Ayurveda determining one’s doshas (air, water, ground, fire…) and seeking to bring these into balance through treatment, diet and cleansing. Note: I am primarily fire and water and not so much ground and air.

potions throughout the day, not necessarily tasty but that’s not the point

Along with the massages and enemas, I would also be put in a “steam box“ in which I would be confined aside from my head in very hot herbal steam. I also received acupuncture most days, specifically to help with the chronic insomnia which is often evident in my consortium of illnesses.

steam box – a *little bit* intimidating at first

The staff were generally competent and kind, however, there was not as much personal care from the doctors as I experienced in other facilities. This is due to (likely) a shortage of doctors, (as there are many people still suffering from lingering affects of a long Civil War in Sri Lanka?), besides other public health matters – though in general, Dr was brusque and seemed “put-out” to be treating me/us.

yup, me everyday like this

Potions: I especially enjoyed seeing the facility where they prepare the various concoctions, with shelves of different herbs and oils and so on… {Reminded me of my dear friend Trevor who is a traditional Chinese medicine practitioner in Canada, and has an extensive herbal pharmacy to make his variety of teas and creams and so on.}

Food: The meals were quite abundant, and serve communally. The chefs also gave cooking demonstrations explaining the various core tastes in Ayurvedic diet (bitter, salty,…) which were evident in each meal. There are specific healing purposes for each of the foods served. Oh, and unlike other Ayurvedic hospitals, they served fish.

During the treatment process, specifically the “clean out“, the meals are adjusted to very simple then rice porridge. As each patient sorta knows what the others are sort of going through, a support network quickly develops to help people through the difficult portions of the treatment cycle.

Meditation / Yoga: Some evenings, Buddhist monks and/or meditation practitioners, would guide us through a lecture and conversation about meditation and lead a guided meditation. In the mornings, was a yoga session. Primarily doing the “sun salutations“ with the addition of some other poses and processes. Frankly it was really challenging for me and wiped me out from the get-go rather than building me up.

Out n About: The facility also had a couple of tuk-tuks to take patients on outings on days in which they were not booked out, again this would depend on where you are in the treatment cycle. I went to a beach one day, which was quite lovely but busy, (that’s fine, just a surprise to me after a few weeks inside).

tuk tuks are the best (better electric)

Another time a trip into the town of Dikwella…which was quite hectic (again this is just me) filled with various shops (many selling gemstones) and (of course) I sought out stationery.

Oh and visited a school (where i enrolled myself for a few minutes (thanks Val for snaps of me being a goofball).

Community and Growth: I did lots of journaling in my downtime, both working on thoughts about my illness and personal changes, as well as making lists of projects I wanted to do moving forward.

wonder where this book is? did i transcribe it?

The other patients were primarily Europeans come: ladies from Czechia, Switzerland both going through big changes in their life, plus a smart and sassy dental surgeon from St. Petersburg Russia, and an airline flight attendant for Etihad from Ukraine living in Abu Dhabi. There was also a couple from Latvia whose visit only slightly overlapped mine.

Sometimes in the evening we would have opportunity to sit and talk about our lives and medical situation and goals for being here which were really a wide variety and, one night I even did a poetry reading with some pieces written in Nepal.

Re-cap: The high point at this facility was the quality of the accommodations and meals, the downside was the lack of personal attention from the doctors, however the practitioners were diligent and friendly and I formed some personal relationships with them.

we had some laughs in the treatments
thank you to staff et al, yes i stuffed the tip box,

Exit: At the end I purchased a wide variety of supplements to continue my care (using an almost comically large stack of colourful bills) and for a while, kept in touch with some of the other ladies in my cohort.

paying the man for the goodness

Epilogue: As it goes, my body just never really rebounded as I had experienced in some of the other treatment cycles, plus some other personal stuff going on I suppose, and I (kinda foolishly) tried to step up my fitness and activity levels which put me into a permanent mode of “PEM” (post exertion malaise) which is a symptom of my illness MECFS.

Onwards: I continued treatment at a very different sort of facility, the “pay what you can” and rather rough around the edges but very helpful Dissanayake Ayurvedic Hospital in Galle and had planned to do an in-patient session there but my circumstance changed and i moved on.

a little friend came to visit

Importantly, this is not meant to be a travelogue or creative writing exercise, just laying out my experience as it came to me. I may include some links to other projects or creations that came out of this, maybe… I’m not there yet.

peace to all the folks dealing with health challenges, i hope this gave you a spark

Whatcha think?